On communities: Emotions matter

Technology is social before it's technical - Gilles Deleuze

Humans are driven quite a bit by emotions. You may be a rational human being but your emotions will still drive many of your choices. You can be excited, angry, interested, or sad about things. It doesn't matter, you'll react to those emotions and you'll very often leak that into your communications.

You'll likely leak your emotions and so will other members of the community. If you think humans should suck it up and act like nothing is happening, I'm afraid you are living in a bubble. That is not how humans operate. That's not how humans interact.

Some humans know this and these humans should make sure other humans know this as well. Emotions matter and they affect our daily tasks. Emotions take control over many times during our day and they determine how our day will go. Being thick skinned doesn't really matter. It just means you can control your emotions a bit more than others but you still react to them. You react in a different, perhaps more controlled, way but you still react to your emotions.

There's nothing wrong about this, though. It's one of the things that makes us humans. Emotions are fine, we just need to learn how to deal with them and how they may or may not affect our days. We need to learn how to be smart about our emotions and we need to learn how to react to each one of our emotions. We need to be observant of ourselves and others

I don't think we should turn communities into therapy sessions. But I do think we should learn how to communicate in a open and friendly way. We can be smarter in our interactions with other members of the community. If we're all observant of our emotions, we'll be able to act properly whenever things are not going exactly well.

I try to keep a low profile whenever my days are not going exactly well. I do this because I don't want other people to be affected by this. This doesn't mean I don't talk to other members. Keeping a low profile in the community doesn't mean you should hide your emotions from everyone. To me, it means I just don't engage as much on discussions that require my entire focus.

On the other hand, if you notice someone is having a bad day you can choose to either reach out or to not make their day worse. You should care, your community is made by humans not laptops.

So, assume good faith or better, always communicate in a friendly way regardless of what your current emotions are or what other member's current emotions are. Don't loose it and focus on what really matters. I know this is all easier said than done but hey, I'm on the same boat.

If you liked this post, you may be interested in the keynote I gave at Pycon South Africa. Keeping up with the pace of a fast growing community without dying

Hi. I’m Flavio Percoco (a.k.a flaper87), and I’m a Software Engineer at Red Hat, where I spend my days working on OpenStack, speaking at conferences. In my spare time I contribute to Rust, write, read, surf, travel, smoke my coffee and drink my pipe.